Review: Black Light: Stories by Kimberly King Parsons


Coming into yourself is anything but a precise science. Life has a way of twisting, tracking back on itself. The characters of Kimberly King Parson’s short stories will be the first to tell you life is a pebble toss away from impossible.

The stories in Black Light are dark and desperate. Tinted with the ache of grandeur familiar to so many residence of the South, the scenes speak directly to the basics of life: love, heartbreak, hope.


Not long ago a friend came over for an afternoon. We made some coffee and dished out the coconut ice cream I had picked up the night before. She had the pick of movies and chose one I’d never heard of. For the next hour and a half every inch of me wanted to shut my eyes, to look away – but I couldn’t. The story was too intriguing, to real. So I sat, eyes wide, as psychological chaos unfolded on my laptop screen.

Reading Black Light was a similar experience. I’m a grown woman, perfectly capable of making my own decisions and saying “no” when I need to. Evidently, this does not apply to books. For all 207 pages, I kept thinking “I’ve got to put this down. I can’t read any more!” before turning to the next sad story and reading on.

Parsons’ use of language is hypnotic. A perfect blend of speed and wit with the turning and twisting style of Southern storytelling. These stories are gritty, in some places more than I had a stomach for. But they are real. Each new title offers eerily precise insight to the lives of people everyone knows in one form or another. It made me stop and rethink my own relationships, look for hints of the dysfunction spread over Black Light in my own life.

Over all, I give Black Light a two out of five. In spite of its intrigue, its beautiful language, and its gripping reality I have to account for the fact that my brain did not want to read it. Saturated in pain and heartache, these stories did little to enhance the beauty of a rainy week. Still, there is a depth here that I haven’t found in many modern publications. Maybe my aversion is simply that Parsons’ did too excellent a job displaying reality – and I get enough of reality on a daily basis.


If you read Black Light and enjoy it, you can find some similar reads linked below:

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Happy Reading!
– Bekah

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